When talking about Runaway Bride, you always have to talk about Pretty Woman. I haven't even seen Pretty Woman and here I am talking about it. I can't really say much about it besides the fact that it appears to be generally well liked by audiences. Runaway Bride is an attempt at recapturing the magic that was created by Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in Pretty Woman. PW made $463 million at the box office on a budget of $14 million so I think this is maybe more of an attempt at recapturing the cold hard cash that it made.
Runaway Bride cost quite a bit more at $70 million and this is probably because of Roberts' price tag after a pretty long string of box office successes. Richard Gere has a handful of movies that struck gold between 1990 and 1998 but is nowhere near as proven as Julia Roberts is. Neither actor was originally going to be cast in this film but Garry Marshall was able to bring them back. He also hooks along his lucky charm in Hector Elizondo and brings back James Newton Howard to score.
Ike Graham (Richard Gere) is a journalist who writes opinion pieces that could be interpreted as misogynist and down-right dumb. Everyone seems to read them for some reason though. He gets a story from a drunken source in a bar about a woman dubbed the "runaway bride" after having ditched her would-be husbands at the alter. Ike writes the article and paints this bride as a man eater. It gets him in hot water because of the fact that the story is in fact full of errors as pointed out by the runaway bride herself, Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts). Ike is fired but another door opens itself in the form of a magazine story he is invited to write. In order to clean up his reputation, Ike travels to Maryland to prove that although he had some incorrect facts, he is correct about what he said about Ms. Carpenter.
I will begin by saying that Richard Gere plays a downright unlikeable character to the extreme. He isn't charming or funny in any way or form and it's a wonder how he has an ex-wife at all. Garry Marshall makes it very clear that I'm supposed to hate Ike Graham and I'm not even a woman.
Runaway Bride is one of those movies that puts together a couple who begins by disliking each other intensely but find a way to work around that.
The thing is though, how on earth could Maggie Carpenter ever feel something for Ike Graham? Part of this is just me disliking Richard Gere, but still. Gere's character has been crafted to be hated by any woman who enjoys watching romantic comedies but Maggie has every reason to always hate him. He wrote an article that named and shamed her on a national level. Yes, she gets her petty little revenge on him but he continues to antagonize her in order to get his little scoop. He's a scoundrel who she should be ignoring as should her family and friends. But no, her family invite him in for dinner for some reason. If you were a parent and a journalist wrote something bad about your child, would you ever even consider having the guy in your home? C'mon!
So while Ike and Maggie basically hate on each other for most of the movie, they end up together in love. Cue the montage that shows them doing all manner of romantic things together that is just a weak way in order to develop their feelings that us viewers are meant to believe. It's cheap and then there's the expected rom-com fallout followed by the make-up denouement and happy conclusion. It also has to be said that I don't see any real chemistry between Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.
We've established that the romance aspect of Runaway Bride is awful, but how's the comedy part? Long story short, there are many jokes littered throughout the 116 minute run time but all of them are either forgettable or they fall flat. RB just isn't a funny movie. The choices of songs in the soundtrack are also so easy and convenient that it's exhausting. Runaway Bride has without a doubt one of the most unoriginal soundtracks I've heard in recent memory.
With a love story that is rushed and montaged to death, Runaway Bride just isn't a believable love story and it isn't funny either. This is a movie you see on TV when you want something quick and easy without any commitment that you can switch when a show you feel like watching comes on. Garry Marshall has made me cynical of basically all romantic comedy movies and Runaway Bride is just another nail in that coffin.